“I prefer to be No. 1 to No. 2,” Rafael Nadal said on Sunday as he prepared to continue his rankings battle with Novak Djokovic in Paris this week and in the season-ending ATP Finals in London
If the 33-year-old Spaniard finishes at No. 1, it would be the fifth time he has ended the year on top of the rankings which would tie Djokovic, Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors.
At the moment, Nadal trails the Serbian, but the race is tight.
“It’s fantastic,” Nadal said. “I prefer to be No. 1 to No. 2 and No. 2 to No. 3. And of course, finishing the year world No. 1 is something special, and I would love to make that happen.”
Nadal’s only competitive tennis since winning his 19th major at the US Open in September was the Laver Cup.
“I had my problem in the hand after the US Open, so I couldn’t finish the Laver Cup the way that I wanted. Then I had to stop for a while,” Nadal said. “I am here with the goal to play my 100 per cent. That’s what I expect.”
Nadal also took some time off to marry his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca on October 19.
Nadal has never won at Bercy but he refused to accept that Paris was an unlucky city for him.
“If it’s not good luck that I won 12 times in Roland Garros, it’s not bad luck that I never won here,” added Nadal, who has a 48-6 record this year, winning 28 of his past 29 matches.
His most recent loss came in the Wimbledon semi-finals against Federer.
“I missed this tournament a lot of times in my career. And other times I didn’t play well and other times opponents have been better than me.”
“As everybody knows, for me it’s the most important city in my tennis career, so I love to be in Paris. It always gives me good vibes.”
Nadal has also won only two tour tournaments indoors over his career.
“Of course it’s an indoor surface that in the past is the surface that I had less chances. I think I have been improving the game to be able to play well. I think this year the surface is quite quick, quite fast. But I don’t know. I’m happy to be here,” Nadal said.
Djokovic and Nadal are the top seeds at the Paris Masters, the last tournament of the regular season.
World number three Roger Federer will decide on Monday if he will join them in the French capital.
“I’ve got a team meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss not just Paris but next season, I guess by tomorrow I’ll know if I’m going to Paris or not,” 38-year-old Federer said Sunday after defeating Alex De Minaur to win a 10th Basel title.
“My fitness is fine, I’m happy with how I feel. I just don’t know if I should (play next week). I’ll figure it out with the team.”